Tag Archives: orchids

The Wild Orchid and the Tasmania Oak – A Love Story

The Wild Orchid and the Tasmania Oak – A love story

Den laevifolium 2 B
Image courtesy of the Perfume Project


The Tasmanian Oak, is a robust, proud and resilient tree.
Years of wisdom engrained; it stood tall amongst trees of heights and sizes. Fibres of complexity, the oak tree held gave it presence.
Guarding at a gateway, the oak remained alert at all times.
When it stormed, travellers sought refuge under its wide, branched embrace where other travellers often stop. But they all braved the gateway – seeking better life. Many stories were told and left behind, under the oak.
While the tree was secretive, and always remained in silence, the Tasmanian Oak absorbed and collected these stories, one at a time for many years and became a tree of knowledge. The stories were; wisdom of great learned, adventures and lives torn, and tried and forgotten escapades. Some of these stories were of sad and glum kismet. Then one day, it stormed far away. The rains brought an unusual traveller, an exotic wild orchid. Delicate in nature, soft in physique and with light form, the orchid floated by the gateway in the rough tide. Brief glimpses and words were exchanged between the Tasmanian Oak and the orchid.
After the orchid’s journey far beyond the seas, tides changed and
once more, the gateway passage became a meeting place for the tree and the orchid. This time, the orchid floated too close and was caught by the root of the oak tree.
Days went by and the orchid clung on for safety, and unable to free itself, it grew roots. The oak remained tall, aloof and on watch and unaware of the life growing at its ‘feet’.
The orchid grew beyond the gateway canopy and above the shadows. It loved its new place and wanted to say thank you to the oak tree. Where the sun rays played and the birds greeted each other warmly the orchid grew into the Oak’s hollow. This place was warm and dry. As days turned to weeks, the orchid felt warm and safe and finally where the oak tree felt the softest, the orchid budded and flowered. In gratitude, the orchid continued to offer the the tree with its beautiful offerings of bloom, one season after another.

At first the Tasmanian Oak was intrigued and enthralled by the beauty of the orchid’s flowers. It felt proud that it could provide a safe haven for the orchid. More days slipped into weeks and months.
The Tasmanian Oak once more became fully engaged with the travellers and their stories. With all effort, the orchid rooted in the tough stringy bark and climbed higher and held on with all its might. It tried to grow new shoots after the flowering but the bark became harder to get close and grow into. The oak tree could not see the orchid anymore as its branches also grew and eventually covered the sunlight and stopped rain water from falling through.
One day, the winds blew and became very strong. It grew into a big storm. It shook both the orchid and the tree. With its delicate nature and roots not planted well enough into the Oak’s bark, it was too hard for the orchid to hang on. The orchid tried to grab onto the bark, branches and even the roots of the Oak tree, when it fell, but the winds were too strong. Once the winds ripped and threw the orchid back into the rough tides, torrents quickly tumbled and washed the orchid away from the tree.  And once more, the orchid was swept out into the open seas leaving the Tasmanian Oak, at the gateway.

Image website: the perfume project.

The weird sex life of orchids


Bellbowrie orchid picture from JLeahy ‘s garden. September 2015.©

Those who love orchids know their exotic blooms and unusual colours. Some have certain places and conditions they like to grow in. But did you know of the weird sex life of orchids?

While I was away, one of my orchids bloomed for the first time. I had been wondering when she would flower. Perhaps her deception to attract pollination or her ‘voodoo’ did not work for the 12 months I grew her. This orchid (pictured above) is one of several I received from my sister-in-law Ufi Leahy’s garden in Kenmore, before she returned to PNG. I was ecstatic to find each clump – wherever I had planted them, bloomed.

The great majority of animal pollinated plants secure the services of their animal pollinators by providing food rewards such as nectar or pollen. However, orchids are exceptional in that perhaps as many as one-third of the 30,000 or so species achieve pollination by deception. That is, they lure animal pollinators to the flower by false promises of food, but do not provide any. They are all show – just for the sex and no rewards for their visitors. Most of orchid species are ‘food deceptive’ – falsely advertising the presence of food by bright colors and sweet scents.

Orchid in the tree. JKLeahy©

Here is an interesting article from the Guardian.

We animals don’t give plants nearly enough credit. “A vegetable” is how we refer to a person who has been reduced to a condition of utter helplessness, having lost most of the essential tools for getting along in life. Yet plants get along in life just fine, thank you, and had done so for millions of years before we came along. True, they lack such abilities as locomotion, the command of tools and fire, the miracles of consciousness and language. But the next time you’re tempted to celebrate human consciousness as the pinnacle of evolution, stop for a moment to consider exactly where you got that idea. Human consciousness. Not exactly an objective source.

Ophrys eleonorae and Ophrys lupercalis, a wild hybrid orchid, whose pollinator, a male solitary bee, is engaged here in pseudocopulation. Photograph: Christian Ziegler/Minden Pictures

So let us celebrate some other pinnacles of evolution, the kind that would get a lot more press if natural history were written by plants rather than animals. I’m thinking specifically of one of the largest, most diverse families of flowering plants: the 25,000 species of orchids that, over the past 80 million years, have managed to colonise six continents and almost every conceivable terrestrial habitat, from remote Mediterranean mountaintops to living rooms the world over. The secret of their success? In a word, sex. But not exactly normal sex. Really weird sex, in fact. Click here to read more.

Series 1 of 2 Open. Forest Mantis Orchid (Caladenia attingens) Margaret River area, Western Australia
Series 1 of 2 Open. Forest Mantis Orchid (Caladenia attingens) Margaret River area, Western Australia

National Geographic: The genus name of the forest mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens) is derived from the Greek words calos (meaning beautiful) and aden (meaning glands), referring to the colourful labellum and the glistening glands that adorn the middle of flower. Their shape and colour mimicking female insects, attracting male insect pollinators. I like this wasp orchid because it also looks like the Bird of Paradise.

A Gardener’s Reward

Picture: Jaradeenah Danomira. 2015

One of my proudest moment as a gardener is when my Cattleya trianae tipo ‘Baronessa blooms. I have several on a poinciana tree and the grey-green mid truck bursts into speckles of translucent white, dabbed with bright pink and golden centres. The Cattleya orchids tell me Autumn is here.

The flowers remain for three and half to four weeks before they finally wilt. These pictures were taken by my niece Jaradeenah Danomira this morning.

Picture: Jaradeenah Danomira. 2015